• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

The Downfall of the Mall, the Triumph of the City and the Birth of Something in Between

March 2, 2017 By Joshua Brett, San Jose Policy Intern, and Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
The popularity of Santana Row reflects a renewed interest in urban places — and places that feel urban. As midcentury shopping malls fail across the country, many are being transformed into “lifestyle centers" that integrate entertainment, dining, public spaces and even housing. At a recent SPUR forum, UC Berkeley's Chris Calott explored the origins — and future — of Santana Row and other lifestyle centers.

Can San Francisco Grow Without Gridlock?

February 24, 2017 By Arielle Fleisher, Transportation Policy Associate
How do you keep people moving and avoid gridlock in a city that’s poised to add 190,000 jobs and 100,000 households over the next 25 years? For San Francisco, solving this problem is not a thought experiment — it’s reality. To address this issue, the city is enlisting developers in making sure their new projects don’t add up to thousands more car trips.

Inclusionary Housing: A Good Tool but Let’s Wield It Carefully

February 23, 2017 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
How much affordable housing should San Francisco require market-rate developers to build? A new study offers recommendations, and city supervisors will soon vote on a permanent requirement. The question they’ll face next is whether to stand by recommendations grounded in technical analysis or yield to political pressures to approve a higher requirement that sounds good but could backfire.

What We Will Lose If the Census Stops Gathering Racial Data We Can Map

February 22, 2017 By Sarah Jo Szambelan, Research Manager
In January, two new laws were introduced in Congress to limit public information on the racial makeup of communities and the race of those struggling to afford housing. These proposals could impact how the U.S. Census collects data. In effect, they would blot out our ability to measure institutional racism — or track our progress to reverse it.
Double Up Food Bucks shelf signage

Double Up Food Bucks: SPUR’s Healthy Food Incentive Grocery Pilot

February 22, 2017 By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
SPUR's newly launched pilot program Double Up Food Bucks helps low-income families afford more fruits and vegetables and supports California farms. The project allows families participating in the CalFresh program (formerly known as food stamps) to double the value of their benefits when they buy California-grown produce at select grocery stores in Santa Clara County.

The Best Equity Plan for Downtown Oakland: Grow for Everyone’s Sake

February 15, 2017 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
Oakland’s Downtown Specific Plan process is about to restart, but with a major shift in approach. Responding to public concern over displacement, the city is developing a racial equity framework for the plan. If Oakland is bold enough in its ambitions, the downtown plan can be opportunity to demonstrate that equity will come from supporting economic growth — not from stifling it.

Charging Ahead: How the Bay Area Is Leading the Country on Electric Vehicles

February 9, 2017 By Sarah Jo Szambelan, Research Manager
At SPUR we promote transit policies that help people get around without cars, but we also recognize that there will always be some amount of driving and have advocated for policies that will move us toward a future with more electric vehicles. A recent EV event hosted by the Center for Sustainable Energy gave an update on how the EV transition is progressing.

How Can the Bay Area’s Aging Oil Refineries Meet California’s New Climate Goals?

February 8, 2017 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
California’s plan to meet its 2030 climate goals proposes reducing emissions from oil refineries by 20 percent. The Bay Area is home to five oil refineries, most of them over 100 years old. What can be done about their significant contributions to local air pollution and to climate-changing emissions?

Where to Put the Downtown San Jose BART Station: Go West

January 26, 2017 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
In the next few months, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will make big decisions about where and how BART will come to San Jose. One of the big decisions is where the downtown San Jose station should be located. Of the two options on the table, SPUR strongly supports the west downtown option. Here's why.

What 2016 Meant for Bay Area Cities

December 20, 2016 By Gabriel Metcalf, President and CEO
So much happened in 2016. It was a year that saw major progress, along with major setbacks. And the outcome of the national election raised the stakes even higher. Here’s a look at the highs and lows — and where SPUR will be focusing its energies in the new year.

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